CHARLOTTE – Will Grier was swarmed with the usual hugs and handshakes immediately after winning his third state championship. Then a young fan half his size offered a present – a necklace of gumballs he’d crafted.
“Wow, I didn’t expect that,” said Grier, Davidson Day’s All-American quarterback.
It was the only thing that surprised Grier on the field, as he capped his prep career by leading the Patriots to a 69-28 victory against Harrells Christian in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II championship Nov. 22 at Northside Christian.
It was Davidson Day’s third consecutive state title. They’ve won a championship all three seasons they’ve been in existence.
Grier passed for a season-high 599 yards and seven touchdowns. He completed 32-of-42 passes. He ran for a touchdown and a pair of two-point conversions.
In other words, he was as dazzling as every other week in Davidson Day’s 12-1 season.
“With all the hard work I’ve put in, that’s how I wanted it to end,” said Grier, who will play at Florida next season. “It seems like all the hard work pays off.”
The Patriots scored on their first play from scrimmage – Jordan Brown’s 91-yard touchdown on a shovel pass from Grier. By halftime, they’d stretched the lead to 28-8. Harrells Christian closed to within 28-14, but Davidson Day responded in dizzying fashion with four touchdowns in an eight-minute span. The lead ballooned to 63-20 and it was time for Davidson Day to one-by-one take the seniors out of the game to rousing ovations.
Brown, a senior running back, only touched the ball 11 times but scored six touchdowns. He had scoring catches of 91, 20, 18 and four yards and rushed for touchdowns of 31 and three yards.
“We were clicking on all cylinders,” Brown said. “We planned on having our best game in the state championship game. When this offense works, it’s fun. We put up points.”
Davidson Day scored at a feverish pace all season. The Patriots averaged 53.4 points, including playoff games of 59, 73 and 69 points. They have talent, but also drew upon postseason experience.
“We were more calm and relaxed about it,” Brown said, referring to the state final. “We’ve been in the situation so many times that we were prepared. We treated it like any other game, but we know what it was worth.”
Davidson Day didn’t punt in the title game. It scored 22 points in the second quarter and 35 in the third. Mike Stevens caught nine passes for 173 yards and a score. Brown caught eight for 155 yards and four touchdowns. Jacob Robinson and Kendon McLaurin also caught scoring passes from Grier.
“It was a been-here-done-that thing,” Patriots coach Chad Grier said. “They’re really a loose group by nature. They play poised and don’t feel pressure. In pre-game you could just tell. They were very confident and very loose. … For us to beat Harrells, we knew we had to increase our physicality. We had to get in the weight room. They’ve got a heck of a program.”
Will Grier capped the most prolific prep career of any lake-area player. He threw for 77 touchdowns this season (which leads the nation) and 4,989 yards. Grier also rushed for 1,252 yards and 13 touchdowns. Career totals in three seasons: 14,559 passing yards, 195 scoring passes, 32 touchdown runs and a stack of state, regional and national awards.
Midway through the fourth quarter, with the game in hand, Chad Grier began substituting for one senior per play, who exited to applause and hugs. The last – and loudest – came with 4:18 left when Will Grier jogged to the sideline, his third straight championship intact.
Eight Davidson Day players were named to the NCISAA all-state team: offensive lineman Jake Helms, defensive lineman Ricky Smith, the brother combination of Mike Stevens (receiver/defensive back) and Matthew Stevens (linebacker), tight end Lamar Briggs, linebacker Trevor Darby, Brown and Grier.